Aleutia Ion HTPC: Dual Core Atom CPU, Nvidia Ion GPU, 4GB RAM, Blu Ray Drive, 1TB Storage and Low Power!
Given our dual focus on Sub Saharan Africa and low power computing, Blu Ray (and the onboard graphics and HDCP support required) hasn't really been a focus for us. But the new Nvidia Ion platform enables us to add to our existing Intel Atom systems and offer a small, low power, and silent (very small, low speed fan) Home Theatre PC, complete with Sony Blu Ray drive as standard and 4GB of RAM. It plays 1080p content smoothly whether from the ultra-fast desktop hard drive or off the Blu Ray drive, and it boasts a DVI, HDMI, and VGA port and Optical SP/DIF Audio Output. Runs Ubuntu 9.04 as standard though it's been tested with Windows 7, Vista, and XP.
For £399 (ex VAT), you get a standard configuration of 2GB and 500GB Drive (16MB Cache, ultra quiet). For an additional £50, you get it loaded with a 1TB Drive and 4GB RAM.
Aleutia D2 Launch: Ultra Small Low Power Intel Core 2 Quad Core Q8200S PC with Nvidia 9300 Graphics, 4GB RAM, Wi-Fi, and Optional Blu Ray
Yes, Intel enjoys far too much sway in the PC industry and we want to avoid being another Intel-inside box shifter but when it comes to running multiple applications, CPU matters. As Tom's Hardware writes, "When it comes to running multiple apps at the same time, compressing/decompressing large archives, and yes, even transcoding, CPUs are still very much deciding factors in resulting performance."
And Intel's new energy efficient (65W) Quad Cores offer a subtstanial boost over the 65W AMD Phenom we offer in the B1. The Intel Core 2 Quad Core Q8200S boasts 4 cores at 2.33GHz with FSB of 1333MHz and 4MB of L2 Cache. (The Q8200 is a 95W processor, whilst we use the more energy efficient Q8200s - performance is identical.)
We've paired this with a powerful onboard Nvidia 9300 GPU that enables 1080p playback, supports Direct X 10.0 for gaming, and dual monitor setups, thanks to the Nvidia nView controller (the D2 has VGA, DVI, and HDMI ports).
We've even squeezed in 4GB of DDR2 800MHz RAM, a DVD-RW drive (optional slimline Blu Ray drive), and Integrated 802.11 a/b/g as well as optical audio out. 500GB Drive with 16MB Cache, Optional 1TB Drive with 32MB Cache.
All of it fitting into the same sleek case as the D1, with total power consumption of just 80W.
I'm fascinated by the hotel industry and the Aleutia Labs have long focussed on designing a PC able to stream HD content (720p) into the rooms of the world's luxury hotels. The challenge is that no one paying $600/night wants to be kept awake by the drone of a PC humming along and so any HTPC must be completely silent. It also has to have either an HDMI or a DVI port and ideally SP/DIF optical audio support. It has to be small (ideally VESA-mountable), low power (since it will be on all the time), and it must be competively priced. The silent B1 was initially designed for this purpose and its dual core CPU and onboard ATi 3200 ensured that it could play 1080p with ease (less than 50% CPU utilization). But it overshot the needs and was just a little too big.
The Fanless H1 (H for Hotel) is our next revision and is purpose-built for the in-room entertainment industry. It fits in the hands, has no moving parts, and thanks to the onboard Nvidia GPU (and 1.6GHz Atom 230 CPU) it can smoothly play 720p and 1080p content. 2GB of 667MHz RAM (the FSB is 533MHz), Gigabit Lan, HDMI and DVI port, as well as Optical Audio Out.
Power is supplied via an external brick with power consumption of just 30W.
Runs Ubuntu Linux, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows Embedded Standard 2009 (formerly XPe). For Linux and WES users, we're offering it with 8GB of flash storage, ideal for media streaming.
HTPC (whether Windows or Myth TV or Boxee) users have the option of a 2.5" Drive up to 500GB. Priced from £199/$300.
I'm excited to finally announce that Aleutia has been selected along with Acer as an Nvidia Ion release partner. As Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huan said on May 8th, "Ion has forever changed what consumers can expect from the mainstream PC. Even affordable and small PCs can be wonderful and deliver the full PC experience." Aleutia couldn't agree more. The PC industry is so modular that most hardware makers live a miserable, profit-free existence, whilst Intel (and to a lesser extent Microsoft) capture the vast majority of profits (and enjoy far more powerful brand value than the expendable builders who use them). Only Apple, with its integrated OS, manages to avoid modularity and achieve acceptable profits.
I've always argued that Intel (and thus the PC industry) overshoots most customer needs and I presented this at the O'Reilly Web 2.0 Conference in '08 (slides here). Many people just wanted to word process and browse the web and so we produced the E2 which offered the performance of a 4 year old computer but in a much smaller case and with much lower power consumption, which meant it could be used in rural Africa and so open up new markets.
However, the web itself has changed and flash-heavy services like YouTube and BBC iPlayer demand more processing power. So we released systems based on the Intel Atom, itself a rebranded Centrino processor from a few years ago. Good for web browsing but unable to play the media that increasingly faster broadband speeds deliver, such as YouTube HD and Vimeo.
Graphics cards have been doing a lot of the heavy lifting for the last few years and their consumer focus has driven costs down massively. The premise of the Ion is to marry an entry level low power CPU (the Atom) with a really decent GPU. These always use less power and are frequently passively cooled. And so you get something that offers "good enough" general computing for the masses with outstanding media playback, which is more and more what users demand.
Aleutia's focus on fanless, low power computers has made us a natural candidate to be an Nvidia Ion launch partner and we're proud to announce the release of 3 new Ion-based PCs which will be released on the 18th, the same day that Acer releases its single core Revo. Exciting times for everyone at Aleutia!
A new Intel motherboard has snuck its way onto their site, with a release expected by the end of June. It's much lower profile than the D945GCLF2 that we use in most of our PCs and it's got a handy DVI port. Most impressive is that the 945GC Express Chipset has been swapped for the less power hungry 945GSE which will be passively cooled.
What boggles my mind is that they've equipped this with the crummy N270 single core Atom processor found in about 100 different netbooks and not the dual core 330 Atom that we use (and which is also passively cooled.
Incidentally, Jetway released a reference design board of this same spec (fanless, with DVI, N270, and 945GSE) back in January as the NF94-270-LF but that cost a fortune (£117 wholesale) and I'd expect this to be much cheaper.